District News Roundup

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Education Alternatives Inc. has admitted issuing a press release that exaggerated the progress made by students in the several Baltimore schools it manages.

The for-profit, Minneapolis-based company last week acknowledged that its Aug. 25, 1993, press release contained inaccurate information, as reported in an article published June 4 in the Minneapolis Star Tribune newspaper.

Education Alternatives maintained, however, that the error was the result of an unintentional oversight and was not brought to its attention until the newspaper report.

The press release had said that 4,800 students at nine schools under E.A.I. management had progressed an average of nearly one grade level in three months on computer-administered tests. Such gains were posted by only a subset of 954 students at five schools; overall gains were far more modest.

After the press release was distributed, the price of E.A.I. stock, which is primarily owned by company officials, increased nearly $3 in one week. (See Education Week, May 25, 1994.)

The news that the release was false was followed last week by a sharp drop in the company's stock price.

Silent Negotiations: Teachers in the Hacienda La Puente, Calif., school district took a one-day vow of silence last month and ran their classes without talking to protest the district's stance on salary negotiations.

Between 85 percent and 90 percent of the 1,200 teachers in the Hacienda La Puente Teachers Association protested, according to Raymond R. Lopp, the union's executive director. Some teachers communicated with students by grunting or writing notes, while others showed films or turned their class periods into study halls.

"We wanted to do something that made a powerful statement, yet, on the other hand, was harmless,'' Mr. Lopp said. "A lot of teachers reported that their students paid more attention than usual.''

Teachers are seeking a 6 percent pay raise after three years without a salary increase, he said.

District officials could not be reached for comment, but, according to published reports, they have balked at the salary increase, citing a tight budget that has been cut by $7 million the past two years.

Board Tosses Out O.B.E.: The Montgomery, Tex., school board has voted to end the district's 2-year experiment with outcomes-based education and oust the superintendent recruited to implement the reforms.

The board announced last month that it would buy out the contract of Superintendent Susan Brooks, who had come under increasing criticism from parents and others opposed to the principles of O.B.E.

Critics said the policies emphasized behavior over academics and failed to improve students' performance.

"We just went in different directions,'' Michael Southard, a board member, said of the decision. "This O.B.E. model was just not working.''

Vol. 13, Issue 38

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